reprinted from Issue 14, Spring 2012 of Frontiers of Medicine (PDF)
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John D. Baxter, MD, a leading endocrinologist whose research group was the first to clone the human growth hormone gene, died October 5, 2011 following complications of cancer surgery. He was 71.
Baxter served on the faculty of the UCSF Departments of Medicine and Biochemistry and Biophysics for more than 35 years, until becoming director of the Genomic Medicine Program and chief of endocrinology at the Methodist Hospital Research Institute in Houston in 2008. During his time at UCSF, he translated fundamental discoveries in molecular biology and recombinant DNA technology into applications with major clinical and commercial applications. These included cloning the key genes for human and bovine growth hormones, discoveries which led to the development of synthetic forms of these hormones. Baxter also founded several companies, including California Biotechnology Inc., and established the UCSF Diabetes Center.
Baxter was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine, and was a past president of the Endocrine Society. He was the recipient of dozens of major awards and honors, and authored hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific articles. He is survived by his wife, the Honorable Lee D. Baxter, a retired San Francisco Superior Court judge; daughters Gillian Galligan and Leslie Baxter; and a grandson.